Cardboard Children – Christmas Shakedown

Hello youse!

It’s been weeks of in-depth board game talk on here, digging down into the specifics and mechanics. I thought it might be nice to have a relaxed pre-Christmas chat about the new games on the shelves on the run-up to the Big Day. So, not really board game news, but more of an overview of what’s new and interesting in this beautiful gift-buying season.

PRE-CHRISTMAS SHAKEDOWN

WARHAMMER QUEST: THE CARD GAME

Well, this is out now. I told you about it before. It’s a streamlined little card game adaptation of Games Workshop’s excellent epic dungeoncrawling game. I really want this one, just to see if it can stack up with its daddy. Of course it can’t. It can’t. But I still want to see. This might make a good Christmas gift for someone who has that Games Workshop nostalgia. Plays 4 people, not too expensive – have any of you tried it? Holler at me.

BLOOD RAGE

Blood Rage is also on the shelves now, and it’s a big old Viking area control game from Eric Lang, who designed a lot of my favourite games. He did Chaos In The Old World, which is a modern classic, and his Warhammer: Invasion is one of the best card battle games you’ll ever play. Lang just seems to keep on smashing it out of the park with his designs, making big sellers (like Marvel: Dice Masters) and quirky beauties (Kaosball) alike. Blood Rage is a big production, with loads of miniatures and beautiful artwork. But it also has some incredible advance word – people who have tried this one seem to really love it. It’s going STRAIGHT on my Christmas list, because I trust this designer and I love Blood and I love to Rage. 2-4 players, for older players – but be warned, it’s an expensive one. All that plastic costs money.

TAIL FEATHERS

Hmm. Tail Feathers. This game, from Plaid Hat Games, is set in their Mice & Mystics world and it’s about birds battling through the skies. It’s an aerial combat game, it seems, with ground battle elements. And you can be guaranteed that this is going to be a beautiful looking thing. Little creatures skirmishing on beautiful maps, birds soaring around above and little mice scurrying around below… And if you have the Mice & Mystics stuff you can use your miniatures from that game in this game, even though it’s a standalone thing.

Here’s my thing, though. Mice & Mystics was a game that I really wanted to love. I thought the storybook element of that game was a beautiful thing, and I loved the whole setting. But the game itself always felt a bit of a slog. I was never entirely convinced by the combat, and everything just landed as a little bit too fussy for a game of its type. So I’m going to wait until I hear some opinions on Tail Feathers. I love the idea of it, but I’m gonna wait and see. If you’ve tried it, please holler at me.

504

So, 504 is here, at last. And at an RRP of EIGHTY QUID, it’s unlikely that this is one people are going to take a chance on without hearing a lot more about it. I’m going to have to pick it up at some point, because a game that is entirely modular – allowing you to play a total of 504 combinations of game elements, creating different play experiences – is something I just have to try. I would love to see some more experimental stuff like this. It’s interesting to just think of games in this way – as collections of different experiential elements, coming together to suggest a theme. It’s the kind of thing I can probably write about at boring length once I’ve played this, but I bet this thing will be an absolute BEAST to review properly. I mean, when will I have played it enough? If game 352 is excellent and game 290 is awaful, where does that leave me? How do you even – OH, I’LL WORRY ABOUT IT LATER.

HALO: FLEET BATTLES

Okay, so this one I have been hearing a lot about already. And I’m hearing good things. I don’t know if any of you know what “Halo” is, but it’s a popular video game series about a green robot man who shoots aliens who are smaller than him. There has been a lot of Halo games released, and the first one was a classic and the most recent ones don’t work properly. It can be played multiplayer too, and there are a lot of purples and blues, and some people even read books about the game’s story even though it doesn’t have one.

I’ve heard this described as a good introductory fleet battle game, as if that’s the kind of thing anyone is looking for. What is good is that the game is said to be very clean and straightforward to play, and the wee spaceships are absolutely brilliant toys. Expansions are rolling out for the goodies and the baddies, and you could maybe spend Christmas recreating some of the greatest battles of the Halo story (it doesn’t really have one) on your kitchen table.

Miniature games are expensive, but I really want this one. Maybe this will be my Christmas gift to myself. Also, I don’t know why I just spent a while slagging off Halo. I love Halo.

CONCLUSIONS

Okay, so that’s a few of the interesting BIG games coming out in the run-up to Christmas. If you’ve had a chance to try any of them, can we all help each other by commenting about that? Let’s not risk anyone buying a turkey this year.

Next week, everything goes all STAR WARS again, as I take a look at another major Christmas release. A board game that you can buy in proper shops, and everything! Yep, next week I’ll be telling you all about the surprising “STAR WARS: RISK”.

11 Comments

  1. MadJax says:

    Warhammer Quest… Damn that game needs a reprint badly… I may still have my ratty old copy in the loft at my grandparents (Xmas gift back when I was an idiot 11 year old with no sense of what I had), and every decent copy of it is upwards of £100 :(

  2. Deano2099 says:

    I am glad I own 504, it’s an incredible piece of design, and as someone who is into bird games as a hobby, it’s just a great ‘thing’ to own. A good game though? Not really. I mean, I don’t really know when I’ll play it, because there’s almost always a better option for if I feel like any of those types of games… It only comes out as a curio really.

  3. Scurra says:

    Re: 504
    I spent some time involved in playtesting a game that eventually came out a few years ago as On The Cards – it’s a trick taking card game but with the basic elements (how many cards are dealt, what can be played, what wins tricks, what scores) being determined in a modular changeable fashion.
    During that process, there was at least one discussion about whether or not a full-scale modular board game could be done using the same sort of techniques. We concluded that yes, it could, but that we couldn’t see the point (nor were we willing to spend the time tuning it.) A card game format worked because the individual hands would be short enough that if the particular combination turned out to be flawed, it could be ditched quickly, and if a good one was found, it could easily be explored further. Similar flaws in a full-scale board game would be much harder to pin down, and if you streamline things to make that process easier, then you risk making it a bit too shallow.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t admire the effort; I know how much work it took to get On the Cards working, after all. And I dare say I will regret not having a copy. But it’s too much of a work of art than an actual product, I think.

  4. meepmeep says:

    Is 504 like those ‘1000 in 1’ gameboy cartridges that had the same tennis game 127 times?

    • wraithgr says:

      504 = 9*7*8 which is the number of permutations of 9 modules. I’m going out on a limb here but I seriously doubt game A-B-C is going to be much different from game B-A-C or game C-B-A. So really you probably have 84 games (9 choose 3) where each one has 6 tweaks. That’s still a lot of games but of course 504 sounds a lot more impressive…

  5. CletusVanDamme says:

    The Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game is truly excellent. I think it stacks up and then some to it’s aging daddy, but then the original Warhammer Quest has long stepped aside in my group to the likes of Shadows of Brimstone (a genuine spiritual successor) and the inimitable Kingdom Death: Monster.

    There’s a lot of game in this little box. I was really surprised by just how different the mechanics were in every quest in the included campaign, and even the included “Delve” adventure (a randomised, condensed campaign) I can see plenty of replay in. And this thing is seriously expandable, you betcha.

    What I’m saying, Rab, is don’t let it sell out like it more or less has in the states. Grab it.

  6. IronTetsubo says:

    Blood Rage! I highly recommend it. Pretty game, but more importantly the gameplay itself is really crisp and fun. I picked up a copy right after the kickstarter came out, and have really enjoyed all the games I’ve played so far (4). It’s got a great balance of relatively simple to pick up and fast to play, but some serious depth in your strategy and thinking once you get the hang of it. You can get by just fine with the base set, but (even though it does get costly) I recommend the various addons as they expand out the play options.

  7. Azhrarn says:

    May I recommend you give “Kingdom Death: Monster” a go at some point? It is probably the most expensive “standard” boardgame on the planet at $400, but it has been described as extremely good by a large number of reviewers and players.
    Think of it as Monster Hunter meets Civilization kind of game, you have a settlement of survivors, they hunt and fight monsters in this dark, dark world and try to survive until the final boss. Gathering resources along the way to craft and develop better gear and civilization principles.

  8. crowleyhammer says:

    I pre ordered Warhammer quest and it should have been delivered at the weekend but the seller sent it through MyHermes… and shockingly (I know!) they ballsed it up doing god knows what and I haven’t had a reply from the seller yet.

    Sounds good though. If I ever get a chance to play it is another matter.

  9. RCoon says:

    Noticed on my newsfeed that Starpoint Gemini II is getting an incarnation as a board game Soon(TM)